Did I enjoy the shows I was looking forward to seeing in 2016?

At the end of last year I published the ‘Top Ten Shows I’m looking forward to seeing in 2016’.

Now that year is over and done with, I thought I would take a look back at what I was looking forward to seeing and see what I actually thought of the shows!

 


Hand To God (Vaudeville Theatre) ★★★

“Hand To God is a good, fun show with some great performances and a beautiful set design of a children’s church school. The message is a little muddled but ultimately it shows how people cope differently with the loss of a loved one. Some turn to imaginary friends and others to having their bodies violently used. We all have different methods of coping. This show certainly won’t be for everyone and is aimed at a younger audience. If you didn’t find The Book of Mormon funny then this one probably isn’t going to be for you either but it certainly has a market out there.” Photo: Tristram Kenton

 

Chicago ★★★★

“A strong performance all round from the ensemble of talented dancers which really make Chicago the incredible show it is. With no set and just just the live orchestra on stage, Chicago is a statement musical that proves you don’t need a fancy set and elaborate costumes in order to make a show a success. Chicago believes in itself and the music and story are what have kept this show alive for more than forty years.

A brilliant show and a brilliant cast. I have seen many productions of this over the years and this version is certainly up there with the best.”

 

Funny Girl (Savoy Theatre) ★★★★★

“Sheridan Smith was born to play this role. Having seen her take on the character, it’s impossible to think that anyone else could. Her facial expressions, humour and personality shine through and she plays up to the audience as Fanny would, especially during Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat when she has to deal with a wayward moustache, glasses and a gun.

Her acting is exceptional; there are times when a slight change in her expression is all that’s needed to send the audience into paroxysms of mirth – especially when she sits on Nick’s lap and we know exactly what she’s feeling, in all senses of the word! Her singing is fantastic, her take on the role is unique and her rendition of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ is as powerful as ‘People’ is moving.

This is a faultless production that will make you laugh, might make you cry and is likely to leave you feeling empowered – once again Sheridan Smith has outdone herself.” Photo: Johan Persson

 

Aladdin (Prince Edward Theatre) ★★★

“The smash hit Broadway musical Aladdin has been hugely anticipated by theatre goers, ever since it announced the show would open in the West End. People are clambering around to get tickets, with many performances already selling out. I was excited to go along and check it out but unfortunately I found it to be an example of how just because a show is a hit on Broadway, not every production translates well across the sea.

The big difference between Aladdin on Broadway and Aladdin in London is that we know the show so well as a pantomime. America doesn’t have a panto culture and so will see the show as a funny comedy musical but to me I just saw a very expensive glorified pantomime that I could see for a fraction of the price all around the country at Christmas.

Aladdin is a good, fun and colourful show that is very much enjoyable but sadly doesn’t quite live up to the hype it has received.” Photo: Deen van Meer

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ★★★

“I’ve seen all of the Harry Potter films and read a few of the books but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan. I was certainly in the minority though when I saw the show. Audience members were glued to their seats, clapping and cheering throughout the show. One thing that is not a secret is that Potter fans are loving it. And I did too. It’s very easy to put on a show and use a well known book or film as its basis because it will sell tickets. Sadly not every show puts the time and effort into producing the best show possible for its audience. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has had nothing but love poured into it from all involved. The writing is wonderful, the direction brilliant, the choreography fascinating and of course the special effects… well they are definitely something special and I came out of Part 1 with my jaw on the floor in astonishment at what I had seen.” Photo: Manuel Harlan

 

Sunset Boulevard ★★★★

“Now to Glenn Close! I guess with her being cast in this show you have to look at it one of two ways. The selling point for the show is that she is a Hollywood film star (Fatal Attraction) making her West End debut in a role she won awards for playing twenty years ago on Broadway. The downside to this is that twenty years ago she would have been the right age to play Norma Desmond and now, well she’s not. But with some tweaks to the script I guess there is nothing to say the character couldn’t be seventy years old, however sadly Glenn Close’s voice is flagging a little. Regardless of that though, the audience lapped up her performance and enjoyed every second.

The set is nicely built to resemble the stairs of the palace that Norma Desmond lives in, with the huge orchestra underneath at the back of the stage.

This production of Sunset Boulevard is undeniably incredible and could (and probably should) transfer to another West End theatre for a longer run after this. Glenn Close serves her purpose in this production (acting as a nostalgic nod to the role she is so famous for) but with someone technically more appropriate in the role it could enjoy a successful West End revival of one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic shows.”

 

People, Places and Things ★★★★★

“Visually, this production is a feast for the eyes. Simple and clean but with clever use of movement and set design that makes an impact on the mind without deterring the concentration of the story being watched. Crashes of light and the clever ability to show what goes on inside of an addicts mind whist coming off of drugs is superbly demonstrated and needs to be witnessed to really appreciate. Anyone who has seen and enjoyed any of Headlong’s previous productions will not be disappointed with this show and People, Places and Things could be their best work yet.” Photo: Johan Persson

 

Tell Me On A Sunday ★★★★

“Featuring the hit songs ‘Tell Me On A Sunday’ and ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’, Tell Me On A Sunday is full of gorgeous songs written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black. Jodie Prenger is possibly the greatest ‘Emma’ to have ever played this role. She commands the stage at all time and I have always admired the way she is able to act through song and embellish the story with the occasional laugh or comical glance. Her vocals are top notch and she plays the hopeless romantic that lets love cloud her judgement perfectly.

I would love to see a fully staged version of Tell Me On A Sunday, with moving set pieces and props that really bring this story to life and give it the look it deserves. The music is beautiful and it really would benefit from a set that doesn’t look’s like it is being transported from venue to venue in the back of a Ford Fiesta.”

 

Let me know what you were looking forward to seeing in 2016 and whether they lived up to your expectations on social media Facebook Twitter or you can email me wilma@westendwilma.com. Most excitingly of all you can write me an old fashioned letter now as well to my new PO Box address (PO Box 73609, London, SE13 9EE).